My name is Shreya Punjabi and I am currently based in the United Arab Emirates as a student at the Nord Anglia International School Dubai.
In the past couple months I think I have heard the words ‘coronavirus,’ ‘Covid-19’ and ‘pandemic’ more than I have heard my own name.
You turn on the tv and it will be the first headline; you attend online classes and it will be the first thing anyone will talk about; you log onto social media and you will see memes, news and information about it on every crevice of the internet — it is all anyone talks about.
With the current state of the world we have all had our own experiences on how to deal with the situation, from protesting for haircuts to binging the whole Netflix library. However, one of the most beautiful things that I, and I am sure a lot of you, have seen come from this dire situation is the connection and bond we have all formed with each other, our society and our world.
Back in March, the UAE went into lockdown, much like the rest of the world. Four weeks. That is how long we were told it would last, four weeks. Unfortunately this was not the case as the pandemic has progressed and is continuing to grow despite people’s best efforts to stay isolated and distanced from one another.
But here is the amazing thing about people: regardless of all the negatives of the virus, people in the UAE and all over the world have still managed to remain optimistic and do what they can to help those in need.
For example, the ‘10 Million Meals’ campaign is the UAE’s biggest community campaign, in collaboration with the Social Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19, which is hoping to provide food assistance to less fortunate families and individuals who have been affected by the current pandemic.
Their main goal is to strengthen the values of giving, harmony and coexistence during the current exceptional circumstances that raise a critical need for the unity of efforts and capabilities, on individual and group levels, towards supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable communities mostly affected by the crisis.
Internationally, people have faced homelessness, unemployment and poverty due to the effects of the pandemic which have led to companies closing down and people being unable to work which is why charities like these are so vital.
Individuals, schools and businesses are encouraged to join and promote it in any way they can which is exactly what the Charity Committee at my school did. We are all trapped at school and so we took that as an opportunity to give back and be a little creative at the same time.
The Charity Committee launched Quarantine Bingo where we challenged students, teachers and parents to make art, do some exercise and donate. This project is just one of the many reasons that I am so proud to say that I am part of this community.
Additionally, since the rise of social media, the world has become much more interconnected and voicing opinions, stories and experiences can now be done with so much ease.
This sometimes means that we are exposed to a lot of hate and negativity as people feel entitled to discriminate, discredit and discourage people online simply because they can hide behind a screen. Recently we have seen this a lot as people find that it is okay to make racist and discriminatory comments and use the pandemic as some kind of pathetic excuse, but it is not okay, nor has it even been.
Spreading positive news
However, for every cynical and pessimistic comment on the internet there is an incredible post and person who is trying to make our world better. There are websites and channels dedicated to spreading positive news; videos of kittens playing with yarn; and people sharing pictures of the new skills they have learnt. Everyday we have people using the time that has been gifted to them during this pandemic to become more connected to themselves and the world as they learn to make bread from scratch or an origami swan.
These (seemingly random) skills and talents and the connection we have made with our community will stay with us long after quarantine ends. We are currently living through a major event for the future as this will be remembered and documented for generations to come. We are making history.